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Monday, February 13, 2006

I agree with Stephen Gallagher's comment on the previous post. The action sequences in Peter Jackson's King Kong do go on too long, past the point where they're contributing to story. (Compare John Roger's dictum that an action sequence should really be a suspense sequence that can only be resolved by action.) The spider pit added nothing to the movie, and the five minutes of stampeding diplodoci seemed like they belonged to Jurassic Park IV: The Outtakes.

I continue to think that it is a disease of directors to go for the cool shot and the cool sequence over the story. Peter Jackson is an amazing director and comes by his "A Film By" semi-legitimately, I think. But he is not a consistent storyteller, as the endless endings of The Return of the King suggest.

I would really like to see DVDs sporting not only a director's cut, where the director sticks in all the cool sequences that don't really belong in the story, but an editor's cut, where the editor has free reign, and gets to show what he'd have done on his own. I bet you Jamie Selkirk could have turned in a 1 hour 59 minute King Kong that had all of the mystery and the love story without the need to get up in the middle to visit the powder room. How about Ralph Rosenblum's cut of the original Producers -- or any Mel Brooks movie for that matter? How about Ben Burtt's Phantom Menace? (There is apparently a rogue Phantom Menace floating around, with a lot less Jar-Jar.)

Sometimes, less is more.


Hi Alex!

I just started reading your blog recently and I'm eating it up! Great stuff!

I think you're too kind to Peter Jackson. I too admire his obvious skill at creating big-budget glossy pictures, but if we both agree that the role of a director is to tell a story first and foremost, then sorry Mr. Jackson, but I'm not a fan.

King Kong was way too long and you know it's only going to get longer when the DVD is released! The neverending action sequences lent very little to the storytelling and took me out of the story.

The same goes for the first Lord of the Rings, but I can't comment on the remaining two because I decided to save myself the half-day and do something else instead! ;)

I know that a lot of people would disagree with me, though, so maybe it's just a style preference. I tend to favour subtlety and nuance more, I guess.

By Blogger T, at 10:25 AM  

King Kong: The Good, The Bad and The Self-Indulgent.

The Good: King Kong, the creature, was an amazing bit of CGI magic. Worth seeing just for that.

The Bad: Is there a word limit for comments? The only thing that kept me in the theatre was the CGI work that had gone into creating Kong. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, else was a disappointment - especially that ridiculous CGI island. However, the most ludicrous thing about the movie was the "love thing" going on between Kong and Naomi Watts. There was just no way I could suspend my disblief. I couldn't understand (emotionally) how any human being could feel anything but horror and fear in the face of a 30 ft. monster like Kong. And I really tried. I really wanted to be entertained and taken away by this film but that ruined it for me. Other disappointments: the Broadway premiere with the beast. What an anti-climax! I'll take the 1933 version over this waste of film anyday. Where did all the magic from the old Kong go?

As for Jackson's self-indulgence, it's inexcusable. Whatever he had accomplished in LOTR was unraveled by Kong for me. And that last line from Black just made me cringe. It didn't work and I'm pretty sure I know why. By the time we get back to Jack Black saying it - and, granted, he is supposed to be in character - we're in a completely different state of mind after the Empire State Building death scene. It comes out of left field and just grinds all the emotion that had been built up to a painful halt.

As you can tell, I'm angry at Jackson for this insult to the original movie and to his audience. And better than an editor's cut on DVD, I would much prefer seeing a Producer's cut by a mile!

By Blogger Script Demon, at 1:41 PM  

And better than an editor's cut on DVD, I would much prefer seeing a Producer's cut by a mile!

Isn't every movie a producer's cut?

By Blogger Orlando C. Harn, at 6:32 PM  

This one certainly wasn't.

By Blogger Script Demon, at 8:44 PM  

I've seen the quite-good Phantom Menace cut. What's so odd is how very small adjustments made the movie, if not great, certainly pretty enjoyable. Less of young anakin and his mom, a different Jar Jar.

My favorite bit was the voice-blurring on the aliens. By forcing them into gibberish and then doing some tight subtitle work, characters are completely different. ... best example. You know the horrible Amidala/Jar Jar scene? "Peoples gonna die-yyy?" The subtitled version turns Jar Jar into a thoughtful warrior counseling Amidala on the price of leadership. No, seriously. And it works.

By Blogger Unknown, at 10:26 PM  

Hi Alex,

I like your book, glad to find your blog. King Kong. Here is where it suffered for me. Too many non-story subplots and action sequences, yes. I liked the romance, though, the jewel of the film.

My big problem? Turning Denham into a villain, then cutting to Watts in a chorus line. We don't get a conflic scene between Watts and Black? First, she loves the big ape. Wouldn't she do anything to stay with him, protect him? Original Kong writers knew what they were doing when they crafted Mighty Joe Young. Jackson wanted a meld of Kong and Joe Young and failed to knit the two ideas together.

She would have stayed to protect the ape, not go work in a chorus line, so that whole thing failed for me, which wrecked the finale.

Here's what would have worked. She HATES the big ape, he's fixated on her, that's the tragedy, we can sympathize, poor brute is fixated on a female who doesn't care, it's his downfall. Any other choice, ie., they LOVE each other, then she would do ANYTHING to care for him, just like in Might Joe Young (the 1949 version please).

Too bad, I loved big parts of Jackson's Kong, but by the time we get our seventh longing look on top of the building I was tired of the emotions, and Black uttering that stupendous line, without the logic behind it, and without much conviction, just ruined it. At least we believe the sentiment in the original, which is where the dramatic power comes from. In the original, beauty really did kill the beast. In Jackson's it was a misguided affection for the idea of love between them that wrecked it.

Logically it should have been a happy ending the way Jackson's was written...

Thanks for letting me blab...

Tom Bauer

By Blogger Tom Bauer, at 5:38 PM  

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